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I'm a long time admirer, and hopefully a soon-to-be owner of a Jeep Wrangler. Although I don't know which model would be the best for me. Hopefully all you Jeep enthusiasts can give me some guidance!

I've done my research on the differences and why certain people would get a Rubicon, and someone else might pick a Sport, yet I'm stuck without knowing what I should do. Let me break down my situation...

Although this will be a daily driver for me, I will take it off-road. While I don't live in an area with extreme trails, (Beaver County, just north of Pittsburgh, Pa. if anyone wants to go riding!) I will be doing my fair share of remote fishing and camping trips. I'm a firm believer in "it's better to have it and not need it, then to need it and not have it". And from what I've read, the Rubicon has it all in spades! But it also comes with a hefty price tag.

Is it overkill for me? I don't know. I love going out and hitting trails on my ATV, so if I have all the bells and whistles of the Rubi, I'm sure I'll look for trails to use it how it's meant to be used. But since that price tag is an issue, would I be better getting a Sport, and just slowly upgrading it?

Keep in mind that I've never worked on a car in my life! To a lot of people, what I just said is sacrilege, and to build a Jeep is better than just buying one... While I completely respect that attitude and tip my hat to all of you who build and modify your rig, not all of us have the time and skills to undertake a project like that. So to me, buying it trail-ready would be a lot easier than modifying it.

Also on that note, to keep the cost down, I may look into leasing for the first couple years, and then buying it at lease end. If I go that route, I technically wouldn't be allowed to modify anything for the first couple years. (But those couple years could be spent saving or buying the upgraded parts I needed)

This post is getting long so I'll stop here and add more as needed. What does everyone think? I like the trail-ready Rubi, but if I pick that one, it might take a lot longer before I buy it because of its price point.

Ps. Regardless of which I get, I would "eventually" want to get a decent lift with bigger tires.
 

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A rubicon is definitely a nice rig but I think people are underestimating the offroad capabilities of the Sport/Sahara's. These offroad areas that you will be going on I bet are within reach of a regular Jeep. I say grab a winch and throw it on a sport since you will be doing a lift and suspension anyways. That is what I would do anyway.
 

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You can make your eyes bleed reading on this forum about everyone's opinion on this topic. Some will say one thing, some will say another. In my opinion, the three most important things that come with a Rubicon that you can't get on any other model are the front Dana 44, lockers, and the transfer case. The Dana 44 is nice to have when you run bigger tires. There are people out there who use their Dana 30 and run 35s without issue and there are others who manage to break axles no matter what configuration they have.

After all of the pros and cons are discussed and you have read every thread in this forum, if you are like me, you will want a Rubicon simply because it's a Rubicon. If you buy a Sport or a Sahara you will be happy, but you will have Jeep envy every time you see a Rubicon (I know I did). Based on what you wrote about how you will use it, you won't "need" a Rubicon, but sometimes it's okay to get what you want. This is one of those times!
 

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Here is my suggestion. If money is the biggest hurdle, don't get it. Save that money for mods, customization, or fixing things when something breaks. I do have a Rubi, the first time off roading I put a 4 inch gash in the sidewall, which means new tire. Do u have money for things like that?
 

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Hi, Never be ashamed of buying the stock Jeep. A base sport model is quite capable. Never feel less of a Jeeper because you some how did not "build it". I did not build this computer, nor my house or the family car. Just pick a model you like. It's really that simple. Me personally I own 3 10a's from 2013 model year. I just ordered a 2015 altitude set up for towing. Good luck, Fun seems to come from just owning the Jeep. As a DD or running some trails, or camping.
 

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From a standard point of view, leasing for 3 years, then turning around, and continuing with more years of payments to 'own it' would be a huge waste of bucks. Be sure to investigate that fully before you make it your plan (That would be 7-8 years of payments).

As far as the model, the Sport will be fully capable for what you describe. Be sure to get the included tow package because that comes with a different axle ratio.
This is from 2012, so talk to the dealer if that is different for 2015/2016:
http://www.wranglerforum.com/f274/3-21-to-3-73-much-difference-128584.html

Since you mentioned you other toy, I would assume you would need to tow it.

Sure, the Rubicon is great, and has a lot more off road tools standard...hence the price difference.(and the 3.71 Axle ratio).

Comes down to a vehicle built to your needs vs paying less, and paying money to upgrade to get it where everything was standard in the Rubicon. With little mechanical ability (yet)...you will be paying someone at a shop over $100 and hour to do the work on top of the parts costs. Plus, there are a lot of side-costs/add-ons when you make mod's. You may not know those if you do/try it yourself.
 

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The leasing idea is not a good one, you'll end up paying more for the Jeep over time. If you're looking to "keep costs down" I would skip the Rubicon and get a sport, you'll be happy. Even if you can't do mods yourself, you can pay someone as funds become available. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
8 years of payments do seem a bit extreme, but otherwise I couldn't afford the one I want. It seems like to upgrade and modify a Sport to the level of a Rubicon would cost more than the initial Rubicon. Not to mention I wouldn't be doing the work myself. Plus 8 years of payments won't be a big issue if the price was affordable, not to mention I'm planning on keeping it indefinitely.
 

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As stated before, other than the stickers, there are only a few things really different in a Rubicon.

1) Push Button Swaybar Disconnect: You can put manual disconnects on a Sport or Sahara for like $100. It just means you have to get out of the Jeep to pull a little pin and bungee the links up. Takes all of 2 minutes with practice. The sole benefit of the auto disconnect is well, laziness lol. The drawbacks of the auto disconnect are 1) another (expensive ie well north of $1,000) piece to potentially break and repair - the motor that drives the disconnect and 2) if you ever run harder trails, you will WANT to manually disconnect rather than auto disconnect (the auto disconnect is not at the ends but closer to middle of the swaybar - extreme flex can cause the swaybar to overextend and end over itself, which can be a pain to pound back into place, and can potentially bust up stuff in the front end worst case if it bangs stuff) and 3) the auto disconnect will AUTOMATICALLY reconnect the moment you hit 17mph, which on easier trails is a pain and you have to remember to push the button again. Most lift kits will provide a manual disconnect (ie add pull pins to the swaybar links), even on a Rubicon. Personally, I play mostly on harder trails - I use the manual disconnect from my lift kit not the push button to disconnect. Only time I use the push button is easy dirt road trails not involving a lot of flex.

2) The Rubicon hood sticker lol!

3) The D44 front axle. This is a big benefit if you plan to run larger tires. Running larger tires requires numerically higher gearing. The D44 carrier is larger than the D30 carrier. A 5.13 gearset in a D30 makes the ring and pinion smmmaaallll. Small = way more likely to break. Breaking gears is always a bad thing as you cannot trail repair them. A 5.13 gearset in a D44 is beefier. Even numerically lower gearsets will be way beefier in a D44.

4) The 4:1 Transfercase. This alone makes the Rubicon absolutely shine offroad! It allows you to really slow crawl obstacles. The Sport and Sahara have a 2.72 (or is it 2.73?) to 1 transfercase. 2.72 is still pretty good, but it will not crawl as slow as the Rubicon. When on harder obstacles, the transfercase and numerically higher proper gearing in a Rubicon allows you to literally just idle over harder obstacles, where the 2.72 would slip you off the obstacle even at the same gearing. If you plan just to do easy trails, you may not necessarily need a 4:1. If you plan to crawl rocks, this alone makes it worth the upgrade to Rubicon. Keep in mind, you only get the 4:1 crawl in 4LO - it does absolutely nothing for you on the street. This is strictly an offroad toy.

5) The 4.10 Gearing: This is useful on the street as well. It gives you more power to turn the tires, very useful if you plan to tow. It is a little bit numerically low to be worth much offroad with bigger than say 33 inch tires.

6) Selectable Lockers: This is the second most major benefit of Rubicon along with the transfercase. It allows you to lock each axle so the tires spin in unison - providing traction. Rather than things like Limited Slip on Sport or Sahara which will try to send more power to a traction wheel, a locker will keep full power at both wheels. This is another only offroad toy - it only works in 4LO so is zero use on the street or easier trails. For a mostly street or easy trail rig, you will get far more bang for your buck with Limited Slip available on Sport or Sahara - especially useful if you live somewhere with snow, lots of rain, etc.

So in summary, the most useful pieces of what makes a Rubicon different than a Sport or Sahara are only really useful offroad. If it will be a mostly street rig, all you are buying in the added cost is basically a sticker.

If you plan to go true seriously hardcore offroad where even the Rubicon gearing and axles and so on are not enough (ie running 40 inch tires, going 1 ton axles, Atlas Transfercase to get even deeper than 4:1 etc) a Rubicon is a waste of money as you will end up mostly gutting everything that made it a Rubicon and replacing it with aftermarket parts. If you plan to do harder trails but stop short of true hardcore offroad - this is where the Rubicon will shine. Easy trails/dirt roads or a mostly pavement rig - buy a Sport or Sahara and take what you would have spent in the extra cost of a Rubicon and put it in the gas tank and go out and have fun! A bone stock Sport or Sahara is no whimpy rig by any means - guarantee take one on a trail and you would reach your pucker limit wayyyyyyy long before your stock rig reaches its limitations.

So basically, how do you envision to use the rig is what it comes down to.
 

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Only one difference
Rubicon 4:1 Transfer case
Sport 2.72:1 Transfer case

The Rubicon CRAWLS at half the speed of the Sport meaning it CRAWLS over rocks with more control than the Sport.

The Sport runs twice the speed in low range meaning you can maintain wheel speed thru mud, sand, snow.... When you are not CRAWLING over rocks the Rubicon will need 4th gear to keep up with a Sport in 2nd gear when both are in low range.

Which is better depends on how and where you wheel.

I have a Rubi but I really wish it had the Sport transfer case. 4L in the Rubi is painfully slow. There is no Jeep envy.... I actually envy the Sports when running trails and forestry roads or hill climbing. If you wheel a Rubi with Sports you will find them waiting for you to catch up.

Lockers, can be added to any Jeep. Buying a new Sport and adding lockers is probably cheaper than buying a new Rubi.

D44s?? Are they really necessary? With a D44 in the rear it must handle all the torque/horsepower. But in 4WD that torque/horsepower is split in half to the front and rear axles. Crawling thru rock fields, leaving one or two wheels hanging changes that hence the Rubicon has D44s at both ends. But if your wheeling leaves 4 tires mostly grounded there is no need for a D44 front axle.

Finally, gas mileage. A Wrangler with the 3.21 or 3.73 ratios will always get better mileage than a Rubicon. Even with 33s. I have friends with all those combinations and the 3.6L.... The Rubicons always take on more gas at the end of the day. Not sure but I think the Rubicon might be tuned differently too which hurts fuel economy.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
This is all great information! Perhaps since I won't be doing any serious rock crawling, I should go for the Sport or Sahara. (Now which one of those do I pick! LOL) Are their different options I should make sure I have with those models? Tow package, a certain gearing off the lot, Etc.
 

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You will want 3.73 gears if you get a Sport or Sahara. I'm not sure if you can order it that way or if you have to get the tow package to get those gears. If you are going to use 35" tires you may want to skip the upgrade from the factory on the gears and get aftermarket gears installed in the 4.56-5.13 range, depending on where and how you drive and if the Jeep is auto or manual. My Rubicon with 4.10s and 35s has a hard time staying in 5th gear on hwy
 

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Eight years of payments??

Make sure the interest rate is very low... like 2% !! Not 12% !!

And start with the lowest purchase price you can find. If you need all the connectivity go for it but every option increases the monthly payment... and you will need a bit for maintenance... and new tires in 5 years.
 

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You will want 3.73 gears if you get a Sport or Sahara. I'm not sure if you can order it that way or if you have to get the tow package to get those gears.

My Rubicon with 4.10s and 35s has a hard time staying in 5th gear on hwy
I agree with the 3.73 unless you are on the highway and want better fuel economy which the 3.21 will deliver.

But expecting to stay in top gear all the time on the highway is unrealistic. OD is designed to drop rpms so you can cruise below peak power and get better fuel economy.

Every new car with the 8 or 9 speed automatics reaches top speed in 5th or 6th gear. The extra gears are there to extend fuel economy, range and reduce emissions.
 

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We are on the 8 year plan for our 2015 JKU Freedom Edition. It was the best model for us as it appeared to have all the features of a $42k Sahara at about $5k less initial purchase price. As others have posted a stock Sport even with 3.21 gearing is very capable - the stock JK/JKU now comes with 32" tires that would have been an upgrade back in the YJ or TJ era. Love ours and we are "leasing to own" with very little money down - made sense for us - 3 years then a 5 year (or 4 if we can one up with a bigger down payment on the purchase)
FYI - even if you lease as long as you are sure you are going to buy, you can do anything you want to mod it as there will be no lease end inspection if buying it at that point....
 

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I did some realllllly fast math for you

Car Finance Calculator – Car Lease Calculator – Cars.com
Car Lease Calculator – Calculate payments & Compare lease deals

Hope those links work

$30,000 Jeep for 36 month lease. $331 a month. $2,500 down. $14,416 Paid at end of 4 years
75% of it's value over 3 year is a number I have seen on websites for Jeeps concerning "Best Resale Price for Vehicles" So would see your $30,000 Jeep have a $22,500 purchasable price in 3 years.
$22,500 would be $403 a month for 60 months. $24,180 Paid (2.94% APR)

24,180 + 14,416 would be $38,596 total paid for over 8 years

So, $8,500 in wasted interest, or another way to see it: you would pay 22% higher for that Jeep.

None includes Tax, title, and all the other Junk.

I am sure someone 'round these forums would have better numbers. This is just a shot at it for you to see the wasted monies in lease then purchasing with a loan.

Slightly different story if you could lease, and pay in full at the end. The good thing (and bad thing in this example) is that Jeeps tend to hold such a high value, at the end of 3 years, it is still rather high.
 

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Another good option is to take a 401k loan if you have one - I bought my Excursion this way - any interest on the loan is paid back to yourself - win/win.
Can't really say interest on a regular loan is "wasted" - it is just the cost of obtaining money to purchase something nicer than you an afford to buy out right. We looked at purchasing used but due to the high residual value it made more sense for us to pay a few $$ more each month and get a new one with no miles....
 

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So the payments would actually go up after 3 years... Not good news
hahaha

I found this funny.

You could be like me..Save up a bunch of money.

Have a kid...Say good bye to said monies.

..Start saving a bunch of money again, and finally order my Jeep when he is 5 years old............
 
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